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Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine (California Studies in Food and Culture) Hardcover – September 2, 2003


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Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine (California Studies in Food and Culture) + Zin: The History And Mystery Of Zinfandel
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Product Details

  • Series: California Studies in Food and Culture (Book 10)
  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520239695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520239692
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Wine historians have long debated the true origins of America's unique wine grape, zinfandel. Though much of today's zinfandel harvest goes to produce sweet and insipid jug roses, more and more oenophiles have come to appreciate zinfandel's big, peppery, full-bodied red wines that stand with the world's best. Through meticulous research, Sullivan demonstrates that the zinfandel grape came to California, not through the Hungarian Agoston Haraszthy in the 1860s, but from decades-earlier shipments of vinifera varieties from New England nurseries. The grape gradually spread throughout California's vineyards until winemakers discovered that zinfandel wine could rival its French competitors when treated knowledgeably and respectfully. The robust economy of the 1980s meant fat times for growers of premium zinfandel, and the variety's popularity grew as vintners experimented with new styles. The discovery in the 1990s that Italy's primitive grape may be identical with the zinfandel set off competition between Old World and New World to see if wine tasters could distinguish one country's wine from the other's. Wine buffs, scholars, and historians will appreciate the author's painstaking archival search. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"California has long claimed zinfandel as its own - a (possibly) native grape whose bottled issue included, in the 1970s, high-alcohol red wines best suited for drinking with takeout pizza and, in the 1980s, blush wines ("white" zinfandels) that strongly appealed to people who didn't really like wine. It's been mainly in the last decade that zin has begun to be taken seriously by wine makers and wine drinkers alike. And it's been in the same interval, ironically, that the story of its being native to California has been debunked as myth. That story is ably told by Charles L. Sullivan in Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine (California, $24.95)."--"San Francisco Bay Guardian

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who is interested in wine might want to read this, but if you like Zinfandel, then I'd put it on the absolute required list. It is not a great book to read, possibly a bit on the dry side ;-) but it IS accurate, and it tells an incredibly important story. This is the story of one of the world's most unique wines, one that is almost exclusively American. Which is why it is so important to read this book and learn about where this grape comes from originally, and how it worked it's way into the modern Zinfandel we know today.

One of the most important things to learn from this book is the truth behind the often cited Count Haraszthy story. This was a story I believed and repeated for years. I'm personally glad to find out I was wrong about that whole tale. It would be great to have lots more people find out about this as well. The truth isn't nearly as colorful as the fiction about the Count, but it's still fascinating to learn how this grape developed.

So all you ZAP members and Zinfandel lovers - please read this book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You will be surprised at the origin of Zinfandel, which sounds like it might be Italian, or maybe German (or maybe neither).

Sullivan approaches his subject with a sense of adventure and fine storytelling, which is just as much about the people involved in the history of the varietal, as it is about Zinfandel itself.

If you have not read Sullivan's wine histories before, be prepared to enjoy the fruits of his meticulous research into the archives of agriculture, winery dynasties, and local history. You will be amazed at how much of your local history or ancestry may be tied to the early work of a former vineyard owner or two, before your current city was urbanized.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting history of this great grape variety and the tracing of its arrival in the US. Good DNA and history work in locating its actual point of origin in the world.
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Format: Hardcover
This must be the definitive book about a very much appreciated American grape. Sullivan is an enthusiast about the Zinfandel variety and an assiduous burrower in historic documents but much of the book is rather dry and textbook like with many facts about plantings in various regions that I read without excitement.

The origins of Zinfandel were long a mystery: how the grape got to California, where it originated and exactly what it is - for it was obviously a European variety but there is none known as Zinfandel in the old world. Sullivan himself tracks down the probably journey of the grape to the West Coast and did a lot of research into disproving the myth that Zinfandel was brought to America by Agoston Haraszthy. Further more he thoroughly demolishes the myth, giving chapter and verse, of Haraszthy being the `father' of American wine by being the first to bring European vines to America.

The book was published in 2003 and anyone with an interest in Zinfandel now knows about how, with the help of DNA testing, its origins were tracked down so this reader found no surprises in the penultimate chapter that tells this story

I was confused and irritated by Sullivan's many references to Zinfandel as `claret': at the beginning he says "we have a cellar full of claret, that is California Cabernet Sauvignon, red Bordeaux and Zinfandel" and I don't know how Zinfandel gets on that list or what he means by a Zinfandel claret.

I read the Kindle eBook edition which I thought overpriced at £13 ($20). The formatting is poor, every `page' has words with gaps in them - even the author's surname on the title page is displayed as S U LLIVAN, and there is a redundant index at the end pointing to non-existent page numbers showing how little care went into digitising the book.

All the same, the book is a useful reference for geeks who want the facts on Zinfandel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Super interesting, a must have for every Zinfandel lover, and for everyone who is interested in US wine history. Some parts read like a novel, some are a little dry and loaded with data, but all super interesting. Highly recommended.
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